64 MY COUNTRY AND MY PEOPLE
Chinese humour, however, is more in deeds than in words.
The Chinese have their words for the various types of humour,
but the commonest type, called huacKi, in which sometimes the
Confucian scholars indulge under pseudonyms, really means
to me only "trying to be funny." Such writings are only
literary relaxations of a too rigoristic classical tradition, but
humour as such had no proper place in literature. At least
there was no open acknowledgement of the role and value of
humour in literature. Humour, indeed, abounds in Chinese
novels, but novels were never accepted as "literature55 by the
There is very first-class humour in Shiking (Book of Poetry),
in the Confucian Analects and in Hanfeitse, but the Confucian
gentleman, brought up in his puritan view of life, could not see
any fun in Confucius, just as he failed to see the wonderful
tender love lyrics in Shiking^ giving them fantastic interpre-
tations, as the Western theologians give of the Song of Songs.
There is a very fine humour in T'ao Yuanming's writings, too,
a sort of quiet leisurely content and a refined luxury of self-
abnegatkm, the best example of which is his poem on his
My temples are grey, my muscles no longer full.
Five sons have I, and none of them likes school.
Ah-shu is sixteen and as lazy as lazy can be.
Ah-hsiian is fifteen and no taste for reading has he.
Thirteen are Yung and Tuan, yet they can't tell six from
A-t'ung wants only pears and chestnuts—in two years he'll
Then, come! let me empty this cup, if such be the will of
Humour -there is, too, in Tu Fu's and Li Po's poetry, Tu
Fu who often produces in his readers a bitter smile, and Li
Po who pleases by his romanticist nonchalance, but we do not
call it "humour." The unholy awe in which Confucianism
was held as the national religion also restricted the free ex-
pression of ideas and made the presentation of novel points